While Woodstock promoters await the required mass-gathering permit from the NYS Department of Health, local law enforcement is proceeding as though the 50th anniversary festival is happening at Vernon Downs. Oneida County Sheriff, Robert Maciol, met Tuesday morning with the promoter, Vernon Downs officials, other law enforcement and local leaders.
"I've never been asked to plan something of this magnitude in 45 days," says Sheriff Maciol, adding that it would likely be an all-hands-on-deck scenario for the weekend of August 16th. "We've blocked, internally for us, we blocked out the day from when we received the potential even coming but there are already people who've already been approved time off and planned for things."
The Woodstock 50th anniversary show wouldn't be the only event happening in the area that weekend; the Madison-Bouckville Antiques Show and the Woodsmen's Field Days happen the same weekend. The Oneida County Sheriff's Department is involved with the field days and deals with traffic overflow from the antiques show. A major challenge will likely be where all the concert-goers would sleep.
"There's no overnight accomodations at this event. There's no camping. So at 11:00, these people have to leave. Where are they going to go? Don't get me wrong. I'm sure they have answers for us," said Sheriff Maciol, adding that he'd not yet had a chance to look over information given to him by the promoter at Tuesday's meetings. Overnights might prove a challenge, as there would be up to 65,000 concert attendees expected, and approximately 3100 hotel rooms in Oneida County.
"We are in touch with personnel from Vernon Downs and Woodstock 50 and we are reaching out to all of our partners in government to review plans and procedures for the proposed event. With the event just a little over a month away, we have been asked to prepare in just days what has failed to get done in over a year of negotiations and preparations at the previous location. As we work with organizers to review the health and safety requirements of an event that in 1999 attracted close to a half million people, our first and foremost concern is for the safety and welfare of Oneida County residents. With such a short timeframe the logistical hurdles to ensure the public health and safety of the concert goers and the surrounding community could pose a significant challenge," said County Executive, Anthony J. Picente, Jr.